Koh stretching Troy over new Battle grounds

Trainer Desmond Koh said he was pushing the envelope for Battle Of Troy distance-wise this Friday, but was still hopeful of an encouraging result.

The last-start winner, who has secured all his three Singapore victories over seven furlongs, is running in the $80,000 Open Benchmark 74 race over 1700m.

Koh said the original idea of thinking out the box was actually around the surface, not so much the distance.

Battle Of Troy is tackling the 1700m on Polytrack on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club

“I wanted to try an alternative surface for him. He ran over Polytrack only once and actually ran on quite well (third), but that was at his first run and it was so long ago,” said the Singaporean handler.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have any race over 1400m on Polytrack. The next race over 1200m was too far away, and there was this 1700m race on Friday.

“He’s never gone beyond 1600m here or in Australia. 1700m will stretch him to the max, but I thought there was no harm testing him. Any further, I don’t think he’s good enough.”

Koh is sticking with Battle Of Troy’s last-start winning partner, champion apprentice jockey Wong Chin Chuen who is currently three wins clear of Zawari Razali in the fight for back-to-back titles.

The Malaysian rider summed up the race to a tee with the Flying Spur five-year-old at his last start in a Kranji Stakes C race over 1400m on October 1, beating a wide gate to secure the lead before going the whole distance.

Koh was pleased with that win especially as it’s been a long time between drinks for Battle Of Troy (last win was in November 2016 in a BM67 race when also ridden by Wong).

“Battle Of Troy won a nice race at his last start, but it’s taken a while for him to win again,” he said.

“We were expecting more from him, to be honest, but let’s hope that last win has boosted his confidence. He definitely is a horse with ability.”

One horse Koh is also tossing in at the deep end without any high expectations is noted frontrunner Order Of The Sun in the $1.35 million Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) next Sunday.

The 2015 Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1700m) winner (dead-heated with Best Tothelign) led but compounded to beat two home in the Singapore Gold Cup trial last Sunday, the Group 3 El Dorado Classic (2200m). On that form, it is doubtful the Encosta De Lago seven-year-old will garner much support, but Koh said it was still a race which has favoured featherweights over the years.

“He is entered for the Gold Cup. He is in good form,” said Koh.

“But there are new talents coming through and that will make it hard for him. His running style makes it such that everything has to suit.”

Koh has booked Wong for the ride on the Macau-owned galloper, who took part in the 2015 renewal (won by Cooptado) at his first Kranji campaign, but finished down the course after taking up the running. He could not quite reproduce the same form he showed in the El Dorado Classic three weeks earlier when he nearly made all only to be denied late by Sebrose.